The Taliban is reportedly handing out a new manual for the troops, reminding them to fight nicer.
“The Taliban in Afghanistan has issued a book laying down a code of conduct for its fighters.
Al Jazeera has obtained a copy of the book, which further indicates that Mullah Omar, the movement’s leader, wants to centralise its operations.
The book, with 13 chapters and 67 articles, lays out what one of the most secretive organisations in the world today, can and cannot do.
Al Jazeera’s James Bays, reporting from the capital, Kabul, said every fighter is being issued the pocket book entitled “The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan Rules for Mujahideen”….
It talks of limiting suicide attacks, avoiding civilian casualties and winning the battle for the hearts and minds of the local civilian population.
Some highlights from the manual at Al Jazz here.
This part caught my eye:
“Mullah Omar is quoted as saying that creating a new mujahideen group or battalion is forbidden.
“If unofficial groups or irregular battalions refuse to join the formal structure, they should be disbanded,” Omar says.
Individual Taliban commanders have so far had a fair degree of autonomy, often deciding what operations to conduct and how to run the territory that they control.
Our correspondent said the regulations seem to be an attempt by Mullah Omar to bring all of the Taliban under his control.
“We have in the past had a lot of different groups in Afghanistan operating under the umbrella of the Taliban,” (Al Jazz correspondent) Bays said.
“But it says in these regulations that if you find an irregular battalion that is not obeying orders then what you have to do is find that battalion and then disarm them.”
Interesting, then, that just last week, Newsweek had this to say about Mullah Omar’s 2 i/c, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, based on interviews with Taliban bosses and underlings:
“…. Current and former insurgents are divided over whether Baradar would be as effective a peacemaker as he is a general. “I get the feeling that he is not as tough and hardline as Mullah Omar,” says Akhund, the Helmand subcommander. Mullah Hamdullah, a senior Taliban intelligence operative from Ghazni province, agrees: “He’s not an extremist like some commanders. If there were ever to be negotiations, Baradar would be the best man to talk to.”….”
So, did Mullah Omar read Newsweek and want to put his 2 i/c back into line, or is he really trying to rein in outliers?
You might also remember this one-page list of rules for Talib fighters made public in 2006. Al Jazz appears to be talking about a whole different animal for a number of reasons.
1) While the old “code” says:
“Anyone with a bad reputation or who has killed civilians during the Jihad may not be accepted into the Taliban movement.”
the new document is more specific about avoiding civilian casualties:
“Governors, district chiefs and line commanders and every member of the Mujahideen must do their best to avoid civilian deaths, civilian injuries and damage to civilian property. Great care must be taken.”
2) The 2006 document talks about unit consolidation:
“A group of Mujahideen may not take in Mujahideen from another group to increase their own power. This is only allowed when there are good reasons for it, such as a lack of fighters in one particular group.”
while the new document appears to be more specific about creating new units:
“Creating a new mujahideen group or battalion is forbidden. If unofficial groups or irregular battalions refuse to join the formal structure they should be disbanded. If a governor or leader has in the past had a unit or active group in another province, they should bring it to the attention of the leader of that province. That leader should then take over command of the group.”
3) The 2006 list o’ rules doesn’t include any mention of what we would call “civic action”:
“The Mujahideen have to behave well and show proper treatment to the nation, in order to bring the hearts of civilian muslims closer to them. The mujahideen must avoid discrimination based on tribal roots, language or their geographic background.”
It’ll be interesting to see how much of the rules get followed – I’m sure the mainstream media, not to mention the alternative media, will be all over any violations, right?